Making sure you’re wearing the right hiking boot for the right adventure can mean the difference between a happyand satisfying excursion or a day spent nursing chewed up and blister-covered feet. So arm yourself with knowledge and use the information below to help you pick the right boot for all the excitement you have planned as you head out with your trailer this summer.

Fit comes first: They might look good or they might be the hot brand but if those boots you’re eyeing don’t fit comfortably on your feet, they’re the wrong boot. A comfortable and correct fit trumps everything else. So how do you know if they fit right? They’re comfortable when you slide them onto your feet, lace them up and walk around.

Have a plan: You have to know, generally speaking, what you’re going to be doing to get the right boots for the trip. If you’re planning a series of day hikes with relative low mileage you’re not going to need the same beefy hiking boot you’d use for a 50-mile backpacking trip.

Your hiking boots might actually be hiking shoes: Hiking shoes exist. They’re ones that are low-cut on the ankles and flexible in the midsoles. If your trip has you doing shorter hikes on well-defined trails with a light load on your back or around your waist, you’re probably best in a hiking shoe.

Your boot needs to be a boot: A good hiking boot is just what you want if the trail you plan to hike is a little more rugged and less defined and if the load you’re carrying on your back is a little more hefty than just a day pack. A good hiking boot will hit you mid-ankle and have a bit of play in the midsole.

Taking it to the next (contour line) level: Beyond the hiking boot is the backpacking boot. They’re taller, usually covering the entire ankle and the midsole is stiff. They’re the right boots if you plan to cover several miles over multiple days on the trail. They give incredible support but tend to be a bit heavier than the typical hiking boot.

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